Term limits for prime minister set to pass unanimously on Sunday

"By their third term in office, prime ministers deal with survival instead of helping citizens," Gideon Sa'ar told Channel 13.  "The bill has no connection to Netanyahu."

 Opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset, November 8, 2021. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset, November 8, 2021.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The ministerial committee on legislation will vote unanimously on Sunday in favor of setting term limits for Israel’s prime minister, sources close to Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who chairs the committee, said on Thursday. 

Sa’ar received approval from Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to go ahead with the bill, because it will not be retroactive and therefore would not apply to opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who could serve eight more years as prime minister until the bill applied to him.

“By their third term in office, prime ministers deal with survival instead of helping citizens,” Sa’ar told Channel 13. “The bill has no connection to Netanyahu.”

Another Sa’ar-sponsored bill, which would prevent anyone under a serious indictment – including Netanyahu – from forming a government, has not obtained the support of Bennett. It is also opposed by Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, Deputy Minister Abir Kara (Yamina) and Blue and White MK Michael Biton.

“The second bill requires dialogue, especially with the prime minister,” Sa’ar said. “There is no deadline yet. I will do my best to reach agreements. When we do, we can advance the bill.”

 Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addresses the Knesset about the budget. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM) Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addresses the Knesset about the budget. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Joint List head Ayman Odeh urged Sa’ar to present the second bill as soon as possible. He told Sa’ar that if he hesitates with the bill, the Joint List would present it first.

Due to a logjam in legislation, the term-limit bill is not expected to be brought to a vote in the Knesset in the coming week.

The coalition faced two losses in the Knesset on Wednesday, and the heads of the coalition are considering sanctions against Ra’am (United Arab List) MK Mazen Ghenayim, who cast the deciding vote with the opposition to build a hospital in his hometown of Sakhnin.

Strategic Planning Minister Eli Avidar came out against sanctioning Ghenayim, saying that with a narrow coalition of only 61 MKs, it would not be smart. Ghenayim warned he could quit the Knesset if pressed.

The next candidate on the Ra’am list is seen as much more hard-line, and it is possible he would refuse to support the coalition. Ala Aladin Jabareen has posted videos in favor of rocket fire on Israeli civilians.

The Likud central committee voted on Thursday night to forbid the party from forming a coalition with any party deemed to support terror or have MKs who do.

The proposal, initiated by former MK Shevah Stern, will handcuff the party and prevent it from forming a coalition with Ra’am. It also rules out relying on Ra’am from outside the coalition.

The head of the central committee, MK Haim Katz, said Ra’am’s behavior in recent weeks proved that the decision was necessary.